Why does web accessibility matter for everyone?

Jake Albion Last updated: May 31, 2023
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    Developing a successful website is a challenging task already, and that’s why it’s best left to professionals. Even though I’m pleased to say I’ve helped many clients develop a website that welcomes guests and helps them make sales, the process is challenging. That is because we at ADWS know why web accessibility matters for everyone, especially for you!

    I’ve built many sites, and many of the processes are second nature to me now, but every new website represents fresh obstacles to overcome.

    A good website needs to be SEO-friendly; it needs to look appealing; it needs to represent a business, it needs to connect with an audience, and it needs to be compliant with relevant regulations.

    That’s a lot to take on board.

    You can see why many businesses and sites think making their website accessible for everyone is too much work or not something that impacts them.

    It’s easy to take websites for granted if you haven’t experienced issues loading a site or making your way across its pages. If this is the case, you’re one of the fortunate users.

    You’ll see from the statistics below that many people across the US and the world struggle online. This is why web accessibility matters for everyone, including your business.

    The statistics of web accessibility

    The following statistics drive home the importance of web accessibility, and why it matters for everyone:

    • 61 million adults in the U.S. live with a disability
    • 59.6% of people with disabilities live in a household with internet access
    • 19.9 million adults in the US (8.2%) have difficulty lifting or grasping which can impact their use of a mouse or keyboard
    • 75% of Americans with disabilities report using the internet on a daily basis
    • 97.4% of the world’s top one million websites don’t offer full accessibility

    On a business level, why would you limit who you reach?

    Stressed male massaging nose bridge suffering from headache due to lack of web accessibility on his website

    Business is hard. You know you won’t reach everyone; not even McDonalds or Coca-Cola believe everyone likes their product, so you aren’t going to unify the world.

    So, it makes sense to try and reach as many people as possible who genuinely are interested in your products or services. Why would you leave potential money on the table by deliberately blanking people who want to give you their money?

    You wouldn’t, but this is what businesses that don’t have an accessible website do.

    The statistics should tell you all you need to know about the importance of having an accessible website. You might be surprised by the number of people living with disabilities in the United States, and for various reasons, accessing the internet is difficult.

    Potential customers will not use your website if your website doesn’t make it simpler or reach out to people. If they then visit a rival website that is accessible, you suffer a loss while a competitor wins; that’s a big blow.

    Then again, you can flip that attitude. If you are in a competitive marketplace, how good would it feel to be the company that changes the game and ensures that every potential customer can use the website?

    You sweep up additional customers or clients in the short term while your peers lose out. In the longer term, as other firms realize how you welcome so many guests, you will ensure their site is ready for everyone and anyone. Although you’ll always be remembered as the leader, you might lose a bit of market share, but society wins.

    And that’s not a bad thing to be part of at any time, but especially in the present day when any win is worth celebrating.

    Web accessibility enhances the user experience

    A happy excited man holding laptop computer

    Many businesses understand the importance of the user experience or UX. If you haven’t focused too much on UX so far, you are selling your business short. This is because UX is a huge factor in search rankings.

    The leading algorithms reward websites that provide a high standard of UX and retain people on-site, offering a pleasurable service. If you don’t provide a good user experience and people log off quickly, your rankings will suffer over time.

    This means you cannot afford to ignore the impact of an inaccessible website for many users. Some of the most challenging situations for users that you should focus on include:

    • Being able to read video captions in a range of settings, include quiet and noisy environments
    • Being able to adjust the brightness of a website depending on the environment a person is in
    • Being able to access transcripts of presentations hosted on the site
    • Being able to navigate a website through the use of a keyboard when a mouse is not working or present

    These are just a handful of the challenges felt by some users, and if your website doesn’t provide a suitable solution to these challenges and more, you fail to cater to your audience.

    Web accessibility is the right thing to do

    Exclusion isn’t good, and if you are left out of an experience you want to enjoy, for whatever reason, it hurts.

    I’m the first to admit I haven’t let my color-blindness halt me; at times, it has inspired me to achieve things people thought I couldn’t.

    In this regard, I’m fortunate, and many others cannot say the same. Standard websites, in their traditional form, are often no-go areas for many people, preventing them from accessing sites, making purchases and enjoying the internet in a way many people take for granted.

    So, making sure everyone can enjoy your site isn’t even a commercial act or something which you hope pays off in the long term; it’s just the right thing to do.

    Web accessibility is often a legal requirement

    Lastly, there is a legal requirement to provide accessible websites. It’s not as if you should need a law telling you to make sure your website is available for all users, but many federal and state laws cover this issue. So, if your website isn’t accessible, you are likely breaking the law and could be liable for a financial penalty.

    How do you reach as many people as possible?

    The sound of reaching as many people as possible sounds ideal for your website, but you might think it’s too hard to achieve. Surely if building an accessible website was simple, everyone would do it, and there wouldn’t be any problems.

    This isn’t the case.

    I like to focus on Universal Design, and it’s a great way to develop usability and create a site that is suitable for everyone.

    What is Universal Design?

    According to the U.S. Chief Information Officers Council, “Universal Design is: “The design and composition of an environment so that it can be accessed, understood, and used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability.”

    A good website can be used by everyone who wants to use it. There are many different opinions on what constitutes good design, but surely having a website fit for purpose is the best design?

    To better grasp Universal Design, it is helpful to consider the 7 Principles of Universal Design.

    1. Equitable Use
    2. Flexibility in Use
    3. Simple and Intuitive Use
    4. Perceptible Information
    5. Tolerance for Error
    6. Low Physical Effort
    7. Size and Space for Approach and Use

    These principles were developed in 1997 at North Carolina State University, and they underpin good website development by people who care about website accessibility.

    You can rest assured that we at ADWS, know why web accessibility matters, and are focused on ensuring that you have an accessible site to all that view your website. My motto is “I’m here to help you be seen, be heard, be social”, and this attitude extends to ensuring every potential website visitor sees, hears and connects with you.

    If you want to feel confident about building and maintaining an accessible website, call on someone who knows the importance of this outcome.

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    Jake Albion

    Albion Digital Web Studio

    I'm the founder of Albion Digital Web Studio. I focus on understanding your business to help you tackle business challenges on the web. I've grown with marketing and its expanding technologies since 2013 and moved my focus to website solutions in 2017 and look forward to sharing how we can help you.

    I'm the founder of Albion Digital Web Studio. I focus on understanding your business to help you tackle business challenges on the web. I've grown with marketing and its expanding technologies since 2013 and moved my focus to website solutions in 2017 and look forward to sharing how we can help you.